Saturday 23 May 2009

4X4 owners left feeling deflated

John Lanchester:

In cities, SUVs are loathed by everyone except the people who drive them; and in a city the size of London, a few dozen people could in a short space of time make the ownership of these cars effectively impossible, just by running keys down the side of them, at a cost to the owner of several thousand pounds a time. Say fifty people vandalising four cars each every night for a month: six thousand trashed SUVs in a month and the Chelsea tractors would soon be disappearing from our streets.

An admirable call to action. And now it has begun!

Environmental activists have carried out a spate of attacks on 4x4s under cover of darkness. Tyres have been let down or slashed, with notes left on motorists' windscreens accusing them of contributing to climate change.

More than 100 so-called Chelsea Tractors have been targeted in recent weeks in wellheeled suburbs of South Manchester.

Detective Inspector Damian Moran, from Greater Manchester Police, said: 'Those responsible might believe they are making a point but this behaviour is criminal. It is mindless vandalism with no regard for the distress and nuisance caused to decent members of our community, and will not be tolerated.'

I have no doubt that the car supremacist Greater Manchester Police, with its pro-road danger tradition, which is quite prepared to tolerate the distress and nuisance caused to pedestrians by obstructive pavement parking in Manchester, will put enormous resources into this case. If the perpetrators are caught and successfully prosecuted, our car supremacist judiciary will doubtless hand out very harsh sentences indeed, far tougher than the average killer driver gets. After all, 4X4s are the kind of vehicles judges and senior police officers own.

I do wonder what offence someone has committed who, without causing damage, simply lets the air out of the tyres of a 4X4 which has been unlawfully driven on to the pavement and unlawfully parked there? I don’t suppose Detective Inspector Moron has spotted that little contradiction.